“Otter has been a great partner for us since day one. When you can take out the hassle of having to use six or seven different tablets, that makes the process much simpler for restaurant owners.”
In the age of delivery apps, the concept of virtual brands is the solution that might give traditional businesses a much-needed boost.
Food delivery has become a global market worth over $300 billion, but succeeding in this fast-growing ecosystem has its challenges. From tough unit economics to operational issues and fierce competition, tapping into new revenue pools has become crucial for restaurants big and small. That’s where virtual brands come in.
Food-tech startup Geezy was born in 2020 to help restaurants increase orders, revenue and margins with delivery-only brands. We sat down with Geezy’s Country Head for the UK and India, Dhruv Kohli, to learn more about becoming a leader in the virtual brand space and how they manage their delivery operations with Otter.
“Our goal is to be able to help every single restaurant in the UK optimise their kitchens. Every restaurant can be a part of our platform, every restaurant has an opportunity to increase their income.”
Let’s start with the basics: what is a virtual brand? Dhruv recognises that explaining the concept is one of their very first challenges. “Educating the restaurant partner is always a hard job as most of them don’t understand what a virtual brand is,” he admits.
In short, a virtual brand is a delivery-only brand a restaurant can adopt outside of their main one. That brand serves as their face on delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. The customer might be purchasing a pizza from a franchise like Hangry Tomato (one of Geezy’s brands), but the kitchen fulfilling the order belongs to an independent restaurant with its own menu that also happens to be part of the Hangry Tomato chain.
Geezy is a food-tech startup committed to helping traditional restaurants achieve their full potential on delivery platforms through virtual brands. According to Dhruv, more than 70% of delivery orders go to big names like McDonald’s or Subway. “That's why we thought, why don’t we introduce the concept of virtual brands to independent restaurants and bring them under the umbrella of a global franchise.”
“For many restaurants, the use of delivery platforms is just extra income,” Dhruv explains, “so they’re still living in the offline world.” Because of that, there's often pushback when they hear about the concept of virtual brands, but restaurant owners soon realise its potential. “Once we provide them with the service and they see an increase in revenue, they refer friends or relatives running a business.” According to their website, Geezy’s restaurant partners make $10,000-$20,000 on average per month with their delivery-only brands.
The startup's secret weapon is simplicity. Unlike competitors, explains Dhruv, Geezy focuses on a plug-and-play solution that every restaurant can implement without additional hurdles. “Our goal is to be able to help every single restaurant in the UK optimise their kitchens. Every restaurant can be a part of our platform, every restaurant has an opportunity to increase their income.”
“We understand data. We understand what the market trends are. So that's where we come in and say, ‘hey, let us do that job and you go and focus on the food.’”
In the United Kingdom, Geezy started operating with small-to-medium enterprises, “but now we have seen some small chains coming in with 25-30 restaurants across the country.” The process is simple: Geezy has built over 20 different data-driven brands that are assigned to kitchens according to their characteristics.
“There are five data sets that we use when assigning a brand to a certain restaurant,” explains Dhruv. First, they identify a market deficit and try to fill it. Second, they take the kitchen’s ingredients into account: “the idea is that the partner doesn’t have to do a big investment, but work with what they already have.” The third item to consider is opening hours (some dishes work best at different times), while the fourth and fifth data points are hygiene and training, respectively.
“We understand data,” says Dhruv. “We understand what the market trends are. So that's where we come in and say, ‘hey, let us do that job and you go and focus on the food.’”
“We know that if you have to scale, you need a partner who is good at what they do. Yes, you can build an in-house platform, but you don't want to spend years doing that. You want to partner with someone who's an expert like Otter.”
The final piece of this virtual brand puzzle is Otter, which Dhruv recognises is a key part of Geezy’s solution: “Otter has been a great partner for us since day one. When you can take out the hassle of having to use six or seven different tablets, that makes the process much simpler for restaurant owners.”
Working with different brands and delivery partners means balancing orders, notifications and menus across multiple tablets. Solutions like Otter allow you to connect all your platforms and brands in one place and visualise your aggregated data at a glance. That’s why every new restaurant that partners up with Geezy receives an Otter tablet to integrate all food delivery platforms in one hub and understand their performance.
Otter’s Order Manager solution allows restaurants to take control of their delivery business through tablet consolidation, order management, and integrations. Plus, as a centralised hub for online orders, Otter provides a range of management solutions from order auto acceptance to menu management, storefront pausing and more.
For Geezy, Otter’s industry-leading dashboard also allows them to analyse performance data remotely and discover deep insights that can inform their business decisions. “We can look at the data and understand what’s happening and how we can improve. Let’s say we notice that one of our restaurant partners is receiving a lot of refund requests. We can look at the data and find out when this is happening. Maybe it’s Fridays between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., so we can give those insights to our restaurant partners to improve quality in this particular shift.”
“Without Otter, it would be very tricky for Geezy to grow,” says Dhruv. “They’ve built a solid system that helps restaurants manage their operations from one single tablet. I think it's amazing.” That expertise will prove to be key as Geezy expands its UK, Australia and New Zealand operations to India. Europe is on their mind as well, with Spain, France and Italy as main priorities, all countries where Otter currently operates.
Just as Geezy wants to help restaurants focus on the food, they rely on Otter so they can work on their area of expertise. “We know that if you have to scale, you need a partner who is good at what they do. Yes, you can build an in-house platform, but you don't want to spend years doing that. You want to partner with someone who's an expert like Otter.”